artist / participant
Some of Dana Schutz' early images, painted about a decade ago, told the story of Frank, the last man on earth; other pictures showed people eating their own bodies; a few dealt directly with political or overtly social issues. Her flamboyant style, which frequently makes references to art history, and especially to the history of figurative painting, is colourful, gestural, and visceral.
It would be a mistake, nonetheless, to think of Dana Schutz' art as unsubtle. She works with oppositions - painting and concept, intimacy and distance, cruelty and compassion, history and the present - and the meaning of her work lies in the liminal space where they abut and come together. Besides, there is puzzlement in her paintings, and not a little apprehension. They are more gloomy than they look, because their humour (much of it self-deprecating) disguises an underlying suspicion that the world doesn't make a lot of sense, and when it does it doesn't make much difference to things anyway.
According to the artist, the works in this exhibition are 'like Tourette's paintings', in that they portray involuntary actions: 'Sometimes imagery comes to mind without any kind of context or larger narrative - a completely irrational, sometimes painful kind of imagery'. It is not impossible, these paintings seem to suggest, that such responses to the world might be more complex and intelligible than they first appear. They may, above all, signal a deep desire to escape from the clutches of an overbearing and disturbing world.
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